When I was the general manager of a store, I had to handle upset customers almost every day. I learned that my response to their anger could either diffuse the situation or escalate it. Many times I said the wrong thing or used the wrong tone and it was like pouring gas on a fire. One person got so upset with me that they came behind the counter, out their finger in my face and said, “You better call 9-1-1, you’re going to need them!” It was a scary moment, but as I looked back, my response is what triggered that emotion in them.
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (NLT)” How we respond to others who are upset matters. Since the inventions of email, text messaging and social media, we have begun to say things to other people we never would have 15 years ago. We feel emboldened to say whatever comes to mind because we aren’t right in front of that person and in many cases we barely know them if at all. We escalate situations by our unfiltered, typed words instead of being worried if our conversation is leading them toward the cross or away from it.
I cringe as I read Christian’s comments on social media regarding the things of the world. I see escalated conversations by those who write with their emotions instead of having eternity in mind. Colossians 4:5-6 tells us, “Live wisely among those who are unbelievers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (NLT)” The word gracious here means pleasant and winsome. We are to win others to the cross with our words not push them away.
Your words matter whether spoken or written. You have the opportunity to deflect an anger from those in the world or to dump fire on their anger. The world will never agree with the message of the cross because it stands opposed to the human way of life. It has been under attack for over 2,000 years and will continue to be under attack until the Lord returns. Jesus should be our model of how to respond. When the Romans crucified Jesus, his response wasn’t to argue with them. It was to forgive them. His response to an angry crowd who were killing him was, “Father forgive them.” He won over one guard who killed Him by how He responded.
I keep that in mind any time there is a flare up on social media between the world and the Church. If I don’t have the right response, I keep my comments to myself. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps his mouth shut.” If what I have to say doesn’t lead someone to the cross and instead pushes them away from it, I’d rather not say anything. We are to live wisely in a world of unbelievers. Our conversation should lead them to salvation. People are watching what you post and how you live. Are your words leading others to the cross or away from it? Your words matter.